Letting out, Letting down

Little gems have been wandering into my sewing studio each week. One pair of Carlisle pants was handed down from mother to daughter but was in need of being let out at the waist and let down at the hems.

It is so interesting/downright intriguing for one seamstress to open up and find really “cheap and nasty” or “down and dirty” reconstruction in previous alterations. You all know I delight/thrive on finding badly done jobs and marvel/gasp in horror at what passes for real sewing while I snap photos. This week just added to the repertoire of things that should not be done…ever. Let’s have a good look at where the previous seamstress made her mistake.

So this should not be a problem, a dart in the waist, no waistband, no facing, just a simple alteration right? But if someone is in a hurry, they will not open the seam between the two and just make a fish-eye dart running from one end to the other and leaving all the fabric bunched up inside the dart to make a lump in the waist.  

Then these darts were double and triple stitched over and over and also once the lining was pushed back inside, they was stitched down again to hold the lumps flat, which didn’t work. Once I opened the darts flat thinking I could open this whole mess up and give the girl her added ease, I found this:  

Yes,  holes in the wool where all that stitching shredded the fabric. Now what? Well I stitched the holes up like a very tiny dart in the wool and the linings so the waist would be a little larger than what we started with since I was in there anyway. I was suspicious from the beginning this would be ugly when I looked at the top seam. If you have a seam that looks like this then you can tell that the seamstress took a real shortcut.

Here is the remedy:  

Nice straight seam across the top and the old dart ready to be pressed flat and smooth and we are done, right? It depends how you feel about your craftsmanship and your client. Do you want it to look like it was done with care and thought or so you leave this lining to just do what it wants and maybe crawl up and show above the wool as she wears it? Can we understitch the lining to the seam allowance like the original? No, not once the crotch seams have been sewn so what can be done?

It is hard to see the small backstitches in black so I have drawn in the red dots to show how this was done by hand. While not done by machine, this will hold the lining down inside the pants. Click on the photo for a closer look.

So, what about the “let down” part? These pants were about 1 inch too short for their new owner so the only remaining hem had to have a false hem attached. I made a strip of black lining with a strip of hem tape on one long edge and attached it to the raw edge and flipped it up into place.

You can see that the vertical seams are a little off when you look at the hem tape at the top of the photo. I don’t make a “ring” of the strip since the pants even though they are plaid and fairly straight up and down they may taper closer to the hem and need the “ring” to be slightly wider at the top. A seamstress is always thinking of these small details, or she should be, as it keeps her from ripping out her work to learn valuable lessons. Adding anything not in the original plan should lay flat and not scream “Grandma worked on this”. I tell my clients that as soon as I have to rip out my work, I am losing money.

It too is understitched to the seam allowance and pressed up and hand stitched along the hem tape. 

So maybe you are thinking after all this thinkin’ and hand stitchin’ will the client notice? Oh, yes Ma’am because I point this out, I print it on the receipt too so they know there is a real difference in coming to my studio. Telling a client that they are worth going the extra mile means everything and gets you killer reviews on your Goggle and Yelp links. And when new clients call and tell me they saw my 10 killer reviews online and ask why some others don’t have them I say we all earn them one customer at a time. If you are a seamstress do you know that you can list your business for free with Google maps, Yelp and Manta? They have client review facilities for your customers and if you hand out a sheet letting them know you value their opinion they will leave a review for you. This makes the difference to them even before they decide who to call. As an owner you can even leave recommendations of other people in your community who do the same job. Seeing as there are 4 other seamstresses in the area and we help each other out when the volume gets heavy I have left comments for their clients as well. Heck, there is enough work to go around and it helps the clients to know that you refer to your good friends (Joyce, Shirley, Tina and Jzionna) who will do them proud too.

Have a super week waiting for tulips to emerge from the frozen ground and watching hungry robins bulk up before the breeding season!

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2 Responses to Letting out, Letting down

  1. theresa says:

    Yikes, altering things for people must be like a box of chocolates. 😉
    Beautiful job on the darts and hem and great tips as always.

    • mrsmole says:

      Ha Ha Theresa…and after opening the box you see it is filled with nuts and then I realize you have to BE a little nuts to want to re-work another woman’s work.Thanks for checking it out!

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